cadets on history and experience of Indigenous people
Academy instructors take part in a blanket exercise in Regina
this morning. These instructors will reproduce the exercise
for new RCMP cadets as part of cadet training, as of Dec.
5 onwards. (CBC)
One by one, blankets are removed from Turtle Island and people
are sent off their common land to the fringes, lost to smallpox
and other diseases or removed from their families and homes.
In the course of one morning, about 20 RCMP instructors walked
through more than 500 years of Indigenous history, as they took
part in a blanket exercise that will become part and parcel of all
new RCMP cadets' training from Dec. 5 onwards.
For Tara McMillan, who works in administrative services at the
RCMP academy in Regina, the morning was "an eye-opening"
"I realize that I have been very ignorant about our history
and what has happened to the Indigenous people here in Canada,"
Seeing beyond the negative
As someone who has worked with the RCMP for 16 years, she said
negativity can become a dominant focus in a policing setting.
"You hear a lot of the negative parts of the Indigenous
world and what they're going through, a lot of the alcoholism, and
the drug abuse and the violence," McMillan said.
"If that's all you're hearing, then you become hardened
to them, and what they say and to their experiences."
instructors taking part in a Kairos Canada blanket exercise
at Regina's RCMP Academy stand on blankets representing Turtle
But the blanket exercise can give cadets a new perspective on
the Indigenous experience and history, from the loss of their land
to more recent trauma such as residential schools, and the disappearances
and murder of Indigenous women and girls, she said.
Sara Anderson, a Kairos
Canada blanket exercise regional co-ordinator, said the organization
has worked with RCMP divisions and headquarters in the past, delivering
However, the advisors who develop RCMP training units expressed
an interest in making the exercise part of cadet training, which
began the partnership that is now taking its first steps forward.
Once RCMP instructors are trained in the process, they will
walk cadets through the experience themselves, as part of the module
on missing persons. An elder will also be present, to provide support
Learning her history
"For me it's part of my own healing journey, because I
never grew up learning much about this," Anderson said.
She said her father was Indigenous and became part of the foster
care system at a young age.
When she went through her first blanket exercise, she said it
gave her insights into her family history and helped explain parts
of her upbringing she had never understood before.
"So through doing the exercise like this, I'm able to share
my story, and help other people become aware of these events and
how they're not just history, but they have current impacts as well
on people just like me."
Anderson, who now delivers blanket exercises herself, says
her first experience of the exercise gave her insights into
her own family history and background. (CBC)
Often, people can have a fear of what they don't know, said
Amy Rankin, manager of the academy's learning resource centre. The
blanket exercise should make cadets "much more empathetic and
much more understanding," she said.
For her, being part of the exercise was not like reading a book
or watching a documentary, but an immersive experience that "really
drove everything home," and made the Indigenous experience
much more personal to her.
"It was reality. It's not just history, it's where we are
The RCMP Academy says modifying the RCMP Cadet Training Program
to include the Kairos
Blanket Exercise is happening in the spirit of reconciliation,
adding it believes the addition to its curriculum will "engage
cadets in the history of our peoples and will have a durable impact
on their work in the field."